In this week’s Illustrated PEN, Guest Editor MariNaomi presents an excerpt from Nicole J. Georges’s graphic memoir Fetch.

MariNaomi writes: The first non-human I truly fell in love with was a rat named Harvey. I’d had other little pals before him, but Harvey was different. He knew his name. He was intelligent and playful in ways that astounded me. Most of all, he was so loving, quirky and loyal, our bond so strong, that when I suddenly lost him to pneumonia, my devastation was unlike any grief I’d felt up to that point. When I went into work the next day, I couldn’t stop sobbing. My boss was unsympathetic (“What’s your problem? It’s only a rat.”) and I had no response other than more tearful sobs. I decided then and there that the bond with a pet is too vulnerable a subject to share with an outsider, that nobody but those involved could possibly understand.

Nicole J. Georges’s beautifully illustrated memoir Fetch has reminded me that, yes, the finest storytellers can indeed take you along with them. They can show you a complicated love through their eyes, and make the reader fall in love by proxy. Her story is an honest-feeling, heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking depiction of herself as a feral child and how that guided her relationships, particularly with a sometimes-difficult but always loyal best friend. Highly recommended for both animal lovers and those who hope to understand their animal-loving friends.

Excerpted from FETCH: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J. Georges. Copyright (c) 2017 by Nicole J. Georges. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.